|Death Date: February 6, 1984
|“Artists and poets are the raw nerve-ends of humanity; they are small in number and their contribution is not immediately decisive in everyday life. By themselves they may not be able to save life on this planet, but without them there would be very little worth saving.”
Jimmy Ernst was born Hans-Ulrich Ernst on June 24, 1920, in Cologne, Germany. His mother was the art critic and journalist Louise Amalia Straus and his father the renowned Dada and Surrealist master Max Ernst. His mother, who was Jewish, perished in the Nazi holocaust at Auschwitz.
Ernst, at the age of 18, moved to New York to escape Germany. He began painting shortly after he arrived in 1938. As an alien in New York, the young Ernst worked at menial jobs, eventually one at the Museum of Modern Art. Studying English, listening to the radio for classical music and for news from Europe, be began painting almost reluctantly. Then his father arrived from Europe, with his new bride, Peggy Guggenheim, and the young Jimmy first helped his father gain legal entry to the Untied States by pledging his own $60.00 weekly salary to the court. Finally he moved into the Guggenheim-Ernst ménage, which rapidly became the center of the most advance art in the world - the birthplace of Abstract Expressionism.
The Young European-American simply retained too much of the sophisticated art intelligence of both his father and his mother to allow him to throw himself blindly into the spontaneous Americans who were creating this new “ism”. The result was unique for his time, his work is abstract, but yet simply a relationship between parts in terms of color, shapes, spaces and the visual weights of all these.
Over the course of more than four decades, until his untimely death in 1984, Jimmy Ernst developed a style that was at once spare and complex, strength and elegant, precisely crafted and replete with nuance—of line, tone, color and touch—and with subtle effects of space and motion.